Difference between apology and sorry

United States
June 16, 2012 7:44am CST
I always thought saying sorry and an apology meant the same thing. My understanding of them both was: acknowledging a bad situation or event and feelings genuinely poor about it and expressing it a deserving individual. But I looked up the definition of sorry and apology and they are actually different. I had no idea. Sorry means: feeling sorrow, sadness, mournful, regret, remorse. Apology means: justification, excuse, admission of error. Man, I am just shocked. I really thought they had the same meaning, only sorry was less formal and apology was more formal. Did anyone have this same misunderstanding of these two words?
9 responses
• United States
16 Jun 12
hi lovelyxodd! this is a very thought-provoking question! i think i was under the same impression you were...so now i think to truly apologize one must tell the wounded party, "i'm sorry and i apologize"! i remember in one of my favorite books, gone with the wind, at the end of the novel scarlett tries to get rhett to stay will her by apologizing for all her untoward actions and he tells her she is like a child, she thinks if she says she is sorry that all the consequences of her actions will be erased...your question is very insightful and should be interesting to all who want to maintain peace and positivity in their human relations...
1 person likes this
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
20 Jun 12
I guess I've always known that there was a difference between being sorry about something that has happened and apologizing. However, I didn't know that the difference between the two things was as great as it is. With that said, I have been sorry about things many times in my life, but I have never taken the time to apologize to those people that I've hurt. I also tend to think that when you apologize for something that has happened, you aren't making excuses for those things happening.
• India
30 Oct 12
I think no difference in between two only we can sorry means this our word and apology means the person whose we hurts means they can give the apology for us.
• United States
16 Jun 12
I agree, apology and sorry are not even close to being the same. I can apologize to someone but not be sorry. Admitting you are wrong, and being sorry you wronged someone are different. Apology is like polite, you should just do it. Saying sorry is like I really am sorry, and won't do it again.
• United States
16 Jun 12
I don't know how many times I apologized or said I was sorry and in my heart I had the same intention each time. I guess I thought both words had the combined definitions, not their own different definition. Good examples of the each word, by the way. :)
@thanks1961 (7046)
• India
16 Jun 12
You are almost true and the meaning for these 2 different words has circumstantial meanings depend on situations. When it comes to apology, it has a wide understanding about the situation behind it. People who really felt sorry and when he realises the guilty party, they intentionally express the mental conditions by the act of apology where as sorry become more formal for silly matters, and which has the power to reduce the third party's aggression to a minimal point.
• United States
16 Jun 12
That is very interesting! I never looked up the differences. I assumed apology and sorry were the same thing. It sounds like telling someone you 'apologize' is somewhat offensive and even insincere. There must be a ton of other things we say that we don't know what they really mean!
@PageTurner (2827)
• United States
16 Jun 12
Hello LovelyxOdd I must admit to not every really thinking about the differences in these two words. Thanks for the lesson. This new knowledge gives me new appreciation for Paul McCartney's song, "Uncle Albert - Admiral Halsey. Hmm, I wonder how else I'll be thinking differently about all manner of things in the future...
@savypat (20246)
• United States
16 Jun 12
I do think these words are often misused. Having sorrow for an action is much different then giving an apology for that same action.
• United States
16 Jun 12
I've always thought they meant almost the same thing. But after reading the definitions you posted, I kind of understood what the differences are. Sorry is more of the feeling while apology is more of an action. Thinking of them that way makes more sense to me at understanding the difference. However, I still think their definitions are pretty close and can almost be used synonymously.
@kkaria309 (297)
• United States
16 Jun 12
I think you are right. I always believed that regretting something was 'feeling sorry' and admitting it and apologizing for your mistake was saying how 'sorry' you are. It is a thin line, and hard to differentiate. But I guess we can simply say that sorry is informal and apologizing is formal.